Monday, September 10, 2007

English to guy on street. Mon, Sep 10, 2007.

09/10/2007. 885. After eating I shopped at a couple stores for some stuff on sale, then went to a Single Adult "Family Home Evening" at a chapel not too far from my home. After that, I shopped at a nearby Kroger and stocked up on some soup that was on sale, plus some store brand canned vegetables. The first two stores were "normal sale" stuff, that is usually on sale at least every other month. But the soup on sale at Kroger was really really on sale, at prices I haven't seen this low since seven months ago, so I really really stocked up.

After leaving Kroger and heading home, I stopped at a Village Pantry convenience store. I think it was prompted, but I'm not sure. The cashier was an English-speaking Caucasian-American guy, so I only bought a newspaper and made no placement attempts.

Outside on my way back to my car, a man asked for spare change. I shook my head "no," and made a "no" gesture with my hand. However, something clicked. The guy was very thin, and very humble and meek, not the agressive "player" type of pan-handler who has a manipulative story with lots of ready answers.

Now maybe the whipped-puppy routine was just his act. But he looked underweight, and it ocurred to me to buy him some food at the convenience store. My rule, though I've violated it a few times, is to give food, not money. And a humble underweight person has a better chance of getting me to give them some food than does someone who's overweight and/or being manipulative.

I put my paper in the car, and went back to him, and offered to buy him some food, and he agreed. He stank of body odor, alcohol and tobacco. He could have been buzzed on alcohol, but he wasn't staggering or anything like that. Alcoholics generally have a high tolerance for alcohol, and can be quite drunk before losing motor skills.

I told him to wait outside and not come in. The last time I said I'd give something to a beggar, he followed me into the store first, and it felt rather manipulative. So now, saying "wait for me outside, and DON'T follow me into the store, or else I won't give you anything" is part of my response.

I shouldn't mind people starting a conversation with me. After all, I strike up conversations with strangers too.

I went in and looked for something nutritious and not too expensive, but didn't find anything suitable, not even prepared sandwiches. It was all junk food and some refridgerated food that you couldn't eat without preparation.

Then it dawned on me that I had a lot of cans of chunky soup and cans of vegetables in the car that I just bought real cheap.

I figured he might be homeless, so I purchased a small box of plastic eating utensils. I took them out to the car, put together a shopping bag of 4 cans of chunky soup in pop-top cans, and 2 cans of vegetables, and took it to him.

He was also rummaging through the sand-filled ashtray near the door, collecting cigarette butts with some smokeable tobacco still on them.

He accepted the groceries and said thank-you. I turned to go toward my car, and he started to leave too. It was only then that it occurred to me to offer him a Bible and a Book of Mormon. Giving him gospel material had not even come to mind up until that point.

I asked him if he had a Bible, and he said yes, and that he read it. So I reached in the car and got out an English Book of Mormon, and an English Gospel Principles manual. I gave them to him and said my church uses these books along with the Bible.

We were only four blocks from the LDS chapel that serves that area. So I took out the info-flyer that I had in the Book of Mormon, and circled that chapel's address, and circled the time that that ward meets, and told him to go there on Sunday, and take his Bible, and those two books.

Looking back as I write this, I was a bit too strident at that point, and I should have invited him to attend instead of telling him to go. The last time I was hit up by a beggar I felt very manipulated, so maybe I was taking it out on this guy, which he didn't deserve. But at least he has a couple meals worth of food, and if he does show up at that ward next Sunday, hopefully they'll treat him nicer than I did.

This encounter was a good lesson for me, to remind me that I need to strive to be more polite, humble, non-threatening and non-manipulative when contacting people, and that literally everybody is a child of God and someone to whom I'd like to give reading material. This was an interesting juxtaposition of events.

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